Exploring zoo heritage with the kinect, a collaboration between Thought Den and University of Bristol

Last weekend I was awakening my inner animal as I was lucky enough to be invited along to the user testing for ZOOM! One of the many REACT Heritage projects that just missed out on being part of Heritage Sandbox cohort of six and so as a producer I've only been aware of the developments in this project through the grapevine. Thought Den have collaborated with Peter Coates, Professor of American and Environmental History at the University of Bristol to develop a new playful way of unfurling the rich archive history of Bristol Zoo through photographs spanning the last century and beyond. From the 1960's when the elephants were routinely taken out for walks around Clifton village, to the days when lion cubs were looked after by the local families dogs, Bristol zoo has a whole plethera of stories portrayed through an extensive historic photographic archive.  

ZOOM Title Screen

Brilliant in it's simplicity, Thought Den have rustled up a gesture controlled projected archive of the diferent species that have been home at the zoo. Using the Xbox kinect, striking a pose triggers the content to appear in front of you, I did the penguin, with my wings down at the side, the elephant with my trunk out to the side and the lion with my grizzly paws out in front... I really got into it! Also the 'mobot', always on topic after the Olympics, this one triggered the human histories of the zoo. Aimed at children and adults, the inerface is pretty slick and simple to see what you need to do. But, the fun part is definitely in making the gesture of that specific animal to unlock the facts and images and then leaning left and right to scroll across the stories and amazing photos from the last 100 years of that particular animal. Thought Den believe that this interpretation is the first of it's kind for zoos and they are hoping to find some more investment to take the project on to the next level. With a more robust permanent installation, you can certainly see the potential, as this could be offered up to zoos all over the country and maybe even the world.

Zoom interface

Swing by Though Den's Blog for their top 6 inspiring kinect projects